Citizen scientists help USC take beach research into fourth dimension | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Citizen scientists help USC take beach research into fourth dimension

19 Apr 2022

Volunteers armed with GPS units attached to smartphones will be photographing two Sunshine Coast beaches tomorrow, Wednesday 20 April, as part of innovative USC research into changing coastal conditions.

The 12-month project, Coast 4D: A Next Generation Citizen Science Coastal Monitoring Program, started in February with a Queensland Government Engaging Science Grant.

University of the Sunshine Coast Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography Dr Javier Leon will lead two hands-on workshops at Peregian Beach and Shelly Beach for citizen scientists interested in protecting the health of the region’s beaches.

“After taking overlapping photographs, we will use an algorithm to stitch them together to build a 3D model of the area,” Dr Leon said.

“In coming weeks and months, we will repeat the surveys to analyse how the 3D beach area changes over time – with time providing the fourth dimension to the study.

“This means that when we look at events such as storms and cyclones, we can see how coastlines, dunes and vegetation react to them and how they recover afterwards.”

Dr Leon said further surveys would be conducted from Bribie Island to Double Island Point to build a large database.

“The idea is to put the GPS technology in the community’s hands, so instead of having a handful of researchers surveying a few beaches, we can rely on more people to do it with a very high level of accuracy,” he said.

The volunteers are from five groups – Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast Branch, TurtleCare Sunshine Coast, Peregian Beach Community Association, Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, and Take Action for Pumicestone Passage.

Others interested in taking part can email Dr Leon at jleon@usc.edu.au.

Engaging Science Grants are made through the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist and are designed to boost public participation in scientific research and STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) engagement events and activities.

Javier Leon with volunteers for Coast4D project

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